GP complaints down 10%, says MDU

Complaints about general practice have fallen by 10% in the past year, bringing them back down to 2008 levels, data from the the Medical Defence Union (MDU) reveal.

The MDU found that complaints had fallen by 11 per cent in 2010/11
The MDU found that complaints had fallen by 11 per cent in 2010/11

The medico-legal organisation said this suggested that a rise in complaints in 2009/10 was caused by changes to the NHS complaints system, rather than declining standards.

The finding comes as the GMC reported that slipping medical standards were not to blame for a 30% increase in fitness-to-practise referrals since 2004.

The MDU research found complaints were up 10% in 2009/10 but then fell by 11% in 2010/11.

It also found that although complaints increased in 2009/10, the proportion referred on to the health service ombudsman dropped by a third.

The MDU said the most common reasons for complaints were allegations of delayed or wrong diagnosis, problems with communication or issues with prescribing.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Jacqueline Phillips, who carried out the research, said the new NHS complaints system introduced in 2009 was likely to be behind the increase in complaints in 2009/10.

She said: 'Looking at the trends it is clear that the new complaints procedure was a factor. This meant practices were notifying us more about complaints and looking for advice on how to handle matters. The rise did not reflect a decline in medical standards.'

GP complaints
  • Complaints about general practice fell by 10% over the last year according to the MDU.
  • The drop followed a spike in complaints in the previous year.
  • The GMC has blamed a rise in fitness-to-practise cases on changes to the NHS complaints system.

Meanwhile, a GMC investigation showed the increase in fitness-to-practise referrals over recent years was due to improved systems of oversight and monitoring by employers.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: 'More complaints about doctors do not necessarily mean standards are slipping.

It could be a sign that the systems to identify problems are improving.

'In addition, rather than keeping quiet about problems, doctors are more likely to speak up when they see anything that could pose a risk to patient safety. And that is exactly as it should be.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Close up of hand holding sample tube with 'Omicron' handwritten on side

Government urged to 'free up' GP practices and expand steps to control Omicron

GPs have called for immediate action such as suspension of QOF to allow practices...

(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

External wall of GP surgery with wording 'medical centre'

‘Utterly toxic’: GPs speak out over abuse and physical attacks on practice teams

GPs have condemned a rise in verbal and physical attacks on practice staff - warning...

Artist's image of a spiked virus

Javid warns of 'substantial risk' from new COVID-19 variant

The highly mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 'may pose a significant risk to public...

Desk with lettering 'LMC conference'

LMCs reject 'outdated' GMS contract and demand move to item of service payments

LMCs have voted to scrap the 'outdated and inadequate' GMS contract and to replace...

GPs at an LMC conference waving green voting cards in the air

LMCs demand ringfence on enhanced services cash and clear GP representation in ICSs

LMCs have called for a ringfence on enhanced services funding, along with a guarantee...